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The Game Effect Review

Fallout: New Vegas Review

War, war never changes... but does the Fallout series?

By Ben Harrison on 10/26/2010
While the state of the Fallout franchise seemed a bit questionable for quite some time, it's good to see that the latest game has ended up back where it belongs: with Black Isle Studios. Well, sort of. Fallout: New Vegas was created by Obsidian Entertainment, a company founded by many members of Black Isle Studios after Interplay shut them down. Bethesda still holds the rights to the Fallout name, but they let Obsidian Entertainment take full control. And since most of the guys in charge created the first two Fallout games, it's a decidedly good sign that they're back at the helm for the latest entry in the Fallout series, and hopefully for more to come.

You can tell right away that there's still a lot of influence from Fallout 3 in this game. And since most gamers would rather see a lot of influence from Fallout and Fallout 2, this isn't really a good thing. Most notably, Fallout: New Vegas still uses the same game engine as Fallout 3 and Oblivion. To the untrained eye it might appear to simply be a new addon for Fallout 3, since you use very similar weapons and a practically identical PipBoy. It's easy to simply dismiss Fallout: New Vegas as an expansion instead of a full game because of this, but when you look closer, you begin to see why this is worth the full purchase price. Most of the improvements go into little details that look so fluid and spot-on that you don't give them a second look. For instance, in Fallout 3, when you tried to aim a handgun, the game would zoom a short bit while retaining a basic “first person view with your gun on the right” viewpoint. In Fallout: New Vegas, all of the guns have iron sights that you can actually use when aiming. Outfits have minute details like dirt stains and holes added to them to make people truly look like they are surviving the post-apocalyptic Mojave desert. This is a stark difference from Fallout 3, where you would see the same few faces everywhere with a few different outfits, making it seem like everyone was some sort of post-apocalyptic Barbie doll. Ruined buildings also look amazing; when you open doors in buildings that haven't been opened in decades, dust fills the room. That being said, the engine is beginning to show its age in some areas. Since Bethesda recently acquired id Games, who is currently working on Doom 4 and a brand new game engine to go along with it, maybe the next Fallout game will have a fresher look to it.
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The story also shows a marketed improvement from Fallout 3. Obsidian Entertainment really knows how to write a post-apocalyptic disaster story, even though they took a slight detour from their previous games. In every other Fallout game besides Fallout Tactics, you play as a “vault dweller,” someone who grew up inside the safety of a nuclear bunker miles underground and very secluded from the world, and are unleashed to this wild untamed wasteland. This time around, however, you start the game as a survivor of the wastelands, gainfully employed as a courier for hire. On a routine delivery mission, you happen to be shot by a man in a checkered jacket who then robs you and leaves you for dead. The game starts with you being nursed back to health by a kindly old doctor and then you set out on your way with only one thing on your mind: revenge. And like the previous Fallout games, what you do from here is entirely up to you.
Along the way, you learn about the warring factions of the Mojave desert, and the game lets you decide which factions with which to ally yourself. The big shots this time around are the NCR, or New California Republic, and Caesar's Legion. While the NCR focus on unifying the deserts like the Brotherhood of Steel in previous games, the Caesar's Legion hold a “might makes right” sort of mentality reminiscent of a Mad Max movie. There are also many other smaller groups which you can align yourself with, each one with their own ideals which may or may not affect your standing with other groups. Which points out another notable return to the Fallout series: the reputation tracker. In each location you visit, you get a fame rating depending on how you interact with the locals. You can very easily become loved in one town and shot on sight in the very next one. You can even persuade certain individuals to accompany you as well, and interacting with them is much easier than in Fallout 3, where you had to issue all orders through dialogue choices. Instead, there's a rather simple menu wheel in place when you talk to your companions, where you are able to give orders or trade items. And they're not just hired guns, either. Each one has their own backstory and personal grudges against the various factions of the wasteland, so bringing the wrong companion with you can have dire consequences.

A new addition to the series is Hardcore mode, which puts the game as close to realistic as Fallout may ever get. Normally, certain “essential” characters can't be harmed so you can always progress the story however you like. In Hardcore mode, all NPCs can permanently die, which includes companions and quest givers. In addition, you also have to eat and drink regularly or face dehydration and starvation, which will prevent you from being able to fast travel and will eventually kill you. You have to sleep regularly or face keeling over from exhaustion. Ammunition has weight, so carrying thousands of bullets takes its toll. While all of these regulations are optional, playing in Hardcore mode really does add an extra degree of gritty realism to an already bleak game. Fans of the older games may recall that they weren't necessarily so bleak and dismal, and would often incorporate some pop culture references. For those gamers, there is an optional trait you can choose at character creation called Wild Wasteland that adds just that: tongue-in-cheek pop references. With this trait, you may come across special encounters that you otherwise might not, such as a fridge that appears to have survived a nuclear blast, but with a charred skeleton and a “suave adventurer's hat” inside. Letting the gamers decide how serious or ridiculous they want their game to be is a truly brilliant move.
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While the game shines in most other areas, the soundtrack to New Vegas does leave a bit to be desired. Like in Fallout 3, your PipBoy is able to pick up radio frequencies depending on your location, and also like Fallout 3 the number of songs leaves a bit to be desired. While I suppose if you think of this in the context of the game, where people are probably unable to find too many records that survived for thousands of years, hearing the same few songs on shuffle repeatedly does makes sense. To the player, however, hearing the same fifteen or so songs on shuffle for hours on end does tend to grate on ones nerves. The amazing ambient soundtrack, however, more than makes up for this. When you turn your radio off, you hear the wind blowing through the leaves of what few trees remain, or a lone coyote howl off in the distance. You hear your footsteps crunch the rubble of destroyed highways. Gunfire from who knows where echoes through the valleys, leaving you to wonder if that skirmish is anywhere near you. All of this more than makes up for the lack of radio variety.

At $49.99, New Vegas is currently available for PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3, and all three are promised new DLC in early January. Like every other Fallout game, multiplayer is nonexistent. There's more than enough replay value to find for yourself, however, since practically every faction changes the outcome of the game. Do you help solders run the Hoover Dam to supply fresh water and electricity to everyone in the region, or do you conquer it and make everyone pay you? Do you help someone overthrow a casino, or do you take it over by yourself? And from there, do you try to take over the entire New Vegas strip? All of these choices, and more, wait for you in Fallout: New Vegas.
The Good
  • Amazing ambient sounds set the mood perfectly
  • Graphics tweaked since last game to look fresh
The Bad
  • Radio playlist leaves something to be desired
  • Uses same graphics engine from 2006
8.5
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
I feel that it is very necessary to state that Mr. New Vegas is the most badass DJ! I absolutely could not stand Three Dog: every time his shouted his own name, I had to suppress the urge to go the the GNR Plaza and dismember him!
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rambo4life1213 on September 05, 2011
Game was amazing but I was soon bored when I did almost everything on it.
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
I understand where you are coming from. I was initially pleased with the addition of the hardcore mode and the survival skill, however the glitch in Helios One allowed you to max out your character AND have an unlimited supply of stimpaks and doctor bags, rendering the two new additions useless. However, I found that sniping Legionaire troops with Boone as a companion never got old. Also, places such as The Thorn and Westside offered a fresh set of challenges and a different atmosphere. I agree with how easy it was to do everything in New Vegas with ease: it took me months to find everything in FO3, which might have been tedious at some points (mainly the damn subway tunnels), however FO3 provided tons of areas to explore and own on some fools. Hopefully the new DLCs will freshen up the game play, although I seriously doubt that any of them will ever top Point Lookout. In the words of the inbred redneck mutants - "Ima getcha. Ergh ergh!".
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Renagaid on August 29, 2011
I played through the game on hardcore mode, it was pretty fun, but it wasnt much different from fallout 3, which i was hoping for a little more of a different experience.
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dimrain on August 12, 2011
New Vegas has an amazing amount of replay value, as there is so much in the game you can do, and different ways to play the game.

I honestly can't wait for the next dlc: lonesome road
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
Speaking of replay, the implementation of unique quest sets for every settlement, fort, and city. Similar to Dragon Age, every town had tons of different quests, all of which had some sort of impact on the story line.
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Sawbones12 on August 10, 2011
Fallout: New Vegas took everything that was good about Fallout 3, improved on the stuff that wasn't, and made the story more closely intertwined with the first two games. In short, it's the perfect Fallout game—or, well, it would be if it weren't on the Gamebryo engine. If you haven't played 3 or New Vegas and you aren't sure which to get, I'd say go with New Vegas.

By the way, Ben, you didn't play as a vault dweller in Fallout 2. Just saying.
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usernameunique on August 07, 2011
Honestly think this game is overrated.
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rambo4life1213 on September 05, 2011
Reasons?
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
Only someone who isn't a hardcore fan of the Fallout series would say such a thing. No offense.
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usernameunique on September 18, 2011
no offence taken, giftedrogue. i'm not a hardcore fan of the fallout series. It looks fun and everything, but for some reason the HUD annoys me. but that is just my opinion.
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navidb on July 29, 2011
excellent gaming experience !
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NowWhat on July 19, 2011
Fallout New Vegas was a HUUUUGGGGEEE open world deal so the crashes, though annoying were understandable. The game is amazing and I love it but I can't finish because I can't choose a side.
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Renagaid on August 29, 2011
I downloaded it to my xbox, making it run so much smoother, but Fallout 3 had a much more open world.
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rambo4life1213 on September 05, 2011
The game would never crash for me just void my saves =(
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
I don't know about you, but I tend be a little too realistic when it comes to making moral decisions within a video game. For example, I never side with the Legion, and I definitely wouldn't play through just for the corresponding achievements. I recommend playing for Mr. House until you upgrade the securitrons, then unplug Mr. House, and either fight for the NCR, or for the freedom of the Strip.
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XZiLe99 on July 13, 2011
It was mentioned in some reviews that while a return to the people who started the franchise is a big win (big, big, BIG win, Bethesda sucks *ss), the bugs are just...just horrible. Random (and none-too sporadic) crashes. Graphical glitches that return just often enough to be too annoying to overlook. Items that just vanish without a trace from your inventory.
I enjoy playing, because I have a huge soft spot for Fallout, but the nostalgia factor sure has to weigh up to a lot of cons sometimes.
One last rant before I end this entry: DEVELOPERS AND PUBLISHERS, FINISH YOU G**DAMNED PRODUCT BEFORE SHIPPING IT!!!
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
I totally agree! Speaking of games that were rushed: KoTor II, Metro 2033, and Dead Rising 2 should have spent more time in development. KoTor II and Metro 2033 would have been so much badass had the developers focused more on the quality of the story line and game play. I consider Dead Rising 2 to be unplayable, which is unfortunate because I enjoyed the original Dead Rising.
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IceboundMetal on June 23, 2011
Ive put 60+ in this game lvl 35 really need to get the Honest hearts DLC and then the Blues one on the 19th, still havent even finished the game lol
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roittaguiar on June 19, 2011
The third person view just did not co-operate with me. Thinking of getting the game for the pc though. Need to get a good mouse to go with it!
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
Fallout games on the PC are the best, because of the endless modding possibilities. The G.E.C.K. GUI allows you to add extra areas, construct a badass motorcycle with knife wheels and rocket launchers, and just like KoToR, it allows you to create new weapons and armor.
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TaylorDurden on May 27, 2011
havn't beaten it yet but the glitches have improved a bit since the last installment. Also when a member of ur group dies he, she, or it doesn't die just falls unconscience for a bit. Thats a big help since they usually get themselves killed anyway.
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XZiLe99 on July 13, 2011
That's only if you choose NOT to engage hardcore-mode though right?
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
Yes, your companions will die if you play in hardcore mode.
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Noctis on May 27, 2011
Love this game! for a while... then it gets borrrinngg
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giftedrogue on September 18, 2011
That's when you pop in FO3 and kill some inbred rednecks in Point Lookout!
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Arxadius on May 21, 2011
Ah! Good ol' New Vegas! LOL!
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